The Glasgow-based quintet El Presidente has one rule: There are no rules. Drawing from Prince and the Beach Boys, Dr. Dre and Barbra Streisand, the group somehow managed to get the right balance of fun, funk and flash on their self-titled debut CD. Front man Dante Gizzi used to have a bistro, with songwriting partner and brother Guiliano Gizzi. While wiping down tables, the pair had a front-row seat to customers' love lives. They saw huge fights, illicit affairs, whispered conversations and dramatic exits. So it's no wonder that El Presidente is filled with songs about love gone wrong. It's also filled with pulsing guitars and pounding drumwork. And that is surprising, considering that Dante recorded much of it on an old sampler, and with just one take. The sampler's tiny memory forced Dante to be more creative, working melodies out of just three chords, stretching his voice to cover the lack of overdubs. American-born drummer Dawn Zhu, bassist Johnny McGlynn, bassist Thomas McNeice and the teenaged vocalist-keyboard player Laura Marks round out the group. Party pop is the best way to describe El Presidente, especially the opening track, "Without You." El Presidente is teasing, young, lighthearted and meant for the dance floor. Does it live up to the expectations that the prerelease single "Rocket" caused earlier this year when it hit hard? Actually, yes.
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